Cutting Costs: Take the Office Out of the Home

Just like any other business, your freelancing practice will do much better overall if you regularly conduct an efficiency review and try to cut costs where possible. I’ll be looking at a number of ways to do so in a series of “Cutting Costs” posts, starting today with one cost-saving measure I’m in the process of working out myself.

My first cost-cutting measure is a big one, because I’m looking to free up a significant amount of cash in one fell swoop, and the timing is convenient. My lease is up in a few short weeks, and so I’m already on the lookout for cheaper accommodation. I live in downtown Toronto, and my place is bigger than one person needs because I wanted to have enough space for a home office. My rent is accordingly quite expensive.

Luckily, working from home doesn’t necessarily mean working from home all of the time, so this time around I’m willing to make concessions regarding space (and location) in the interest of saving significantly in terms of my monthly rent. Instead of a one-bedroom-plus-den, which I have now, I’ll be looking for a one-bedroom place, which in this market might amount to as much as $700 in savings, depending on where I end up relocating.

To make up for the lost space, I plan on spending much more time working away from home. I have a three-part approach to accomplishing this, which should ensure that my routine stays varied enough to remain interesting, and has some built-in redundancy to ensure I always have somewhere to go to work that isn’t my own apartment.

Coworking/External Office Space

The first and primary part of my plan is to use a largish portion of the money I save in rent to pay for a membership at a newly opened coworking venture here in the city. It’s called Camaraderie, and it’s conveniently located relatively close to the area I’m looking to move to. Membership fees are $300 per month, which guarantees you a spot during working hours, including free Wi-Fi and hot beverages.

It’s a deal that can’t be matched by renting office space alone in the downtown area, but if you live somewhere that isn’t a major metropolitan area and that doesn’t have a local coworking space, try looking around for office space rentals, and see if they might not be cheaper than maintaining the larger place you’re using now as your living/work space. You might be surprised at how much money you can save this way. Even the savings represented by being able to choose a lower-cost Internet plan for home and savings on tea and coffee spend are significant.

Museum/Gallery/Library Memberships

The second part of my office/house separation plan involves simply maintaining the library, museum and other public space memberships I already have. Library cards are free in most cases (or at least they are here in Canada) as long as you can prove residence, and museum and gallery annual memberships generally aren’t that expensive.

It’s like having coworking space, except you’ll often be the only one working and it’s an interesting environment. There might not be coffee immediately available, though, which is why step three is a great old stand-by.

Starbucks/Coffee Shop

Never underestimate this old time-tested web working buddy. The coffee shop will save your sanity time and time again. If you’re in a dense urban area or have access to a car, this one should be the easiest of the three steps to get a handle on. My advice is to find an independent place with low turnover, because you’ll get the familiarity benefits of an office setting without all the downside of an actual office.

All told, it looks like I might be able to shave between $300 and $400 a month off of my budget, all by accepting a move to a slightly smaller space and adding some coworking to my routine, something I’ve been hoping to do more of anyway; not a bad cost-cutting measure by any means.

Have to tried downsizing your home office to cut costs? How did it work out?